It’s Greece. It’s been confirmed. But where
the hell is Greece? Patu wants to know.
He’s ignorant, never got past Standard 6 —
his dad couldn’t spare him — had to get up
at 6, milk the cows, and after milking
do all the other chores. ‘Greece,’ I tell him,
‘is close to Gallipoli,’ and his eyes light up.
He knows the name, because his Uncle Ru
died there, fighting the Turks. We agree
that anywhere is better than being here
at Amiriya, buggered by route marches,
plagued by flies, heat and sand — sand blowing
everywhere. But the pyramids, my God!
A million slaves died building them, they say.
They are indeed great marvels, but give me
Hikurangi any day. ‘We go to Greece,’
says Freyberg, ‘to defend the birth place
of culture and learning,’ and it gets me
wondering why I’m here at all so far
from my run-down farm, my sick people, and a meeting-house in need of repair.
Sharpe, I. (Ed.). (2001, January 1). Best New Zealand Poems 2001. Retrieved from http://www.victoria.ac.nz/modernletters/bnzp/2001/home.html